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|Abstract||An original poem entitled "Departing Love" by George Moses Horton, a Chatham County, N.C., slave. The poem was commissioned by the Reverend Henry A. Dixon of Chapel Hill, N.C., for his bride to be, Martha Sugg. A contemporary transcription, dated 1 August 1856, by the recipient, Martha Sugg Dixon, is also included.|
|Creator||Horton, George Moses, 1798?-circa 1880.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
Processed by: Tim Pyatt, April 1996
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George Moses Horton (circa 1797-circa1883) was a Chatham County, N.C., slave who taught himself to read and compose poetry. By the age of 20, he began visiting the University of North Carolina and selling to the students acrostic love poems based on the names of their girlfriends. His literary efforts were encouraged by a number of well-placed individuals, including the novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, North Carolina Governor and later University President David L. Swain, and newspaperman Horace Greeley.
Hentz helped Horton publish his first work, "Liberty and Slavery," in the Lancaster [Mass.] Gazette on 8 April 1829. This was the first known poem written by a slave protesting his status. Horton's "The Hope of Liberty," also published in 1829, was the first publication in the South by an African American.
[Adapted from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. For further information, see The Black Poet by Richard Walser (1966).]
OTHER HORTON HOLDINGS IN THE SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION
Additional Horton manuscripts can be found in the following collections:
From the Pettigrew Family Papers (#592), seven poems, 1836 and undated (folder 568):
"The Emigrant Girl"
An acrostic (Doctrine Davenport) "Mr. Davenport's address to his lady"
An acrostic (Mary M. Davenport) "His lady's reply"
An acrostic (Mary Pettigrew Davenport) "To their little daughter"
"The Pleasures of a College Life"
An acrostic (Julia Shepard) "On the pleasures of beauty"
From the Gillespie and Wright Family Papers (#275), two acrostics on the same sheet, undated (folder 17):
"Lo Twilight memorys sweet and pleasing beam"
"Joy may revive in sorrows lonely vale"
From the David L. Swain Papers (#706), three letters, 1844, 1853, and undated:
To: Gov. Swain from George M. Horton of colour, 3 September 1844
To: [Horace Greely] from George M. Horton of colour, 11 September 1853
To: Gov. Swain from George M. Horton, poet, [undated]Back to Top
An original poem entitled "Departing Love" by George Moses Horton, a Chatham County, N.C., slave. The poem was commissioned by the Reverend Henry A. Dixon of Chapel Hill, N.C., for his bride to be, Martha Sugg. A contemporary transcription, dated 1 August 1856, by the recipient, Martha Sugg Dixon, is also included.Back to Top